Saturday, October 28, 2006

23 January 1956

Anchored still, or rather rooted, off Augusta Sicily—the stench from the town, if indeed that backed-up-sewer aroma can come out this far, is gone for the moment: maybe the wind is in the right direction

Sometimes I think the Commissary Office should be renamed—it is used as a Crew’s Lounge & After Scullery. The cooks flock in at all hours, mostly after seven at night & before seven in the morning. They come armed to the teeth with coffee cups (which they slosh all over & then leave where they set them) & cigarettes (whose ashes cover the floor to a depth of an inch & a half at times). Also, officers inspecting the meals bring their trays in here & eat in the comparative seclusion of the office rather than mingle with the rabble on the mess decks. When they have finished, they get up & leave, & the trays remain behind. I am not now & never have been, nor never hope to be, a steward’s mate; I do not enjoy running dirty trays & cups back to the scullery after each tide of cooks & officers. I do not appreciate being chosen to run & get the Chief & Coutre a cup of coffee ten times a day—neither one of them are pregnant or physically incapacitated that I can see. But they are a Chief Petty Officer & a Second Class Petty Officer, respectively, a fact by which I cannot be duly awed.

I never knew how aggravating "I" can become until listening to Mordeno for a while. He is the First Class Cook in charge of the bakery, & as I’ve mentioned before, is never without a cigarette & coffee cup. He has a little pot belly & a baby face (an old baby), & he spends far more time in the Commissary Office than he does in the Bake shop. This weekend he had the "duty chief" watch, & was in the office more than ever, with his feet propped up on Mr. Clower’s desk & his nose stuck in a pocket western. Whenever the phone would ring, the conversation would go something like this:

"Commissary Office; Mordeno speaking, sir.---Yessir, I have.---Well, sir, I think I can have the men in one of my galleys arrange it.---Yes, sir, I sent two gallon jugs of coffee & one hundred & fifty cups to the beach guard.---Yes, sir, I’ll see to it immediately. Yes, sir, I’ll have it all ready for you—twenty-five men, you say? Well, sir, you send them down & I’ll see that they get fed."
Or--& this is the one I really enjoyed:

"Commissary Office, Mordeno speaking, sir. Yes, sir—just a minute sir.---Hey, Margason, you got a mess cook by the name of Andrews down here?" I say yes, we do.

"Yes, sir," says Mordeno, "I have a man by that name…." And he doesn’t have a damn thing to do with mess cooks

The crowning glory came one day when Coutre went into the galley to get a roll for breakfast.
The mess cook didn’t know him & wasn’t sure if he should give him one. Enter Mordeno from the direction of the Bake shop, coffee cup in hand, to take over the situation. "That’s all right; give him one—he works for me." Thank God the roll wasn’t jelly filled, or Mordeno would have looked awfully silly wiping strawberry preserves off his face.

Oh, yes—latest scuttlebutt, hot off the flight deck. This one was caused by the sudden presence aboard of twelve civilian yard workers from the States. It seems that we are going back to the States this Friday!!! We somewhere along the line developed a twisted keel, which puts the flight deck slightly out of line & therefore is responsible for all the accidents we’ve been having.
Unfortunately, they’re only here to get measurements for our new canted deck (strike Rumor No. #74 regarding "Canted Deck, Our Not Getting")

It would appear that there is basis for the twisted keel theory, since we never have been the same since the two kamikazes hit in 1945 The ship, when towed from the Pacific all the way to the east coast for repairs (her bilge pumps going all the while) had a fifteen degree list to starboard. One of her four screws to this day does not function properly, & when sitting dead still in calm water we still have a slight list to starboard!

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